Department of Defense
Launched in 2021, DARPA's ReSource program aims to revolutionize how the military procures critical supplies on the battlefield by engineering self-contained, integrated systems that rapidly produce large quantities of supplies from feedstock collected on-site. Performer teams are tasked with developing systems to break down mixed waste, including common plastics, reformulate the waste at the molecular level into strategic materials and chemicals, and recover purified usable products such as oils, lubricants (POLs), and edible macronutrients. The program is now entering its second phase.
The DoD has a role in orbital and lunar missions as defined by the US Space Force (USSF) Space Capstone Publication . In this document, USSF notes the "inherent value of the space domain and the tremendous influence space has on U.S. prosperity and security." There is a critical DoD need for the continued development and future expansion of orbital manufacturing to enable and ensure supply chain resiliency, sustained technological superiority, and asset security and repair for current and future operations. To meet this unique challenge, DARPA announced today that it was taking an initial step to explore and de-risk manufacturing capabilities that leverage biological processes in resource limited environments with its Biomanufacturing: Survival, Utility, and Reliability beyond Earth (B-SURE) program.
An unmanned air vehicle demonstrated successful airborne recovery during the DARPA Gremlins program's latest flight test deployment last month. During the deployment, two X-61 Gremlin Air Vehicles (GAV) successfully validated all autonomous formation flying positions and safety features before one GAV ultimately demonstrated airborne recovery to a C-130.
In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Sergey Bratus, a program manager since 2018 in the agency's Information Innovation Office, shares his educational and professional journey, beginning in the late 1970s as a computer-smitten middle-schooler in the former Soviet Union and leading to his current and prominent role among those who aim to render the increasingly prevalent and perilous software, hardware, and networks in our lives much safer to use.
DARPA's SIGMA+ program, in collaboration with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), recently concluded a three-month-long pilot study with new sensors intended to support early detection and interdictions of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threats. The pilot involved integrating highly sensitive chemical, biological, radiological/nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) sensors into several IMPD vehicles and gathering real-world environmental background data over a large part of the Indianapolis metropolitan region, building on a smaller event conducted in Indianapolis in August 2020.
Materials with novel optical properties developed under DARPA's Extreme Optics and Imaging (EXTREME) program are providing new capabilities for government and military imaging systems.
DARPA's System Security Integration Through Hardware and firmware (SSITH) program is exploring hardware security architectures and tools that protect electronic systems against common classes of hardware vulnerabilities exploited through software, with the goal of breaking the endless cycle of software patch-and-pray. To date, research on the program has focused on developing approaches and proving out concept that system-on-chip (SoC) designers can use to limit computer hardware to states that are secure while maintaining performance and power.
Dispersing clouds of obscurants in battle is a common military tactic that U.S. forces use to protect themselves from detection by adversary vision and sensor systems. The problem with current obscurants, however, is that they also degrade visibility and sensor performance of friendly troops. Additionally, obscurants designed to counter infrared systems are made of metallic flakes that are dangerous to breathe, requiring troops to wear respirators in combat.
In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Gordon Keeler, a program manager since 2017 in the agency's Microsystems Technology Office, takes listeners on a scenic tour of his efforts to integrate electrons and photons in ways that do more computing, more sensing, more decision-making, and more artificial intelligence in cheaper, smaller, lighter, and more energy-efficient packages than has been possible previously.
The Department of Defense (DOD) must solve many complex optimization problems to enable mission capabilities - from determining the most efficient way to distribute supplies to minimizing warfighters' exposure to hostile forces. Solving these intricate scenarios is difficult, largely owing to the limitations of existing computing resources. Today, many optimization problems are solved on conventional computers running both heuristic and approximate algorithms, extracting the best solutions allowed by the limited time and energy that is available.
DARPA, in partnership with the U.S. Air Force, completed a free flight test of its Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) last week. The missile, built by Raytheon Technologies, was released from an aircraft seconds before its Northrop Grumman scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) engine kicked on. The engine compressed incoming air mixed with its hydrocarbon fuel and began igniting that fast-moving airflow mixture, propelling the cruiser at a speed greater than Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound).
It may come as a surprise that even with precise weather forecasting, supercomputers, satellites, and exquisite maritime sensing instruments we know very little about how currents move on the surface of the ocean. Models exist for subsurface ocean currents and weather activity above the surface, but the air-ocean interface is not a fully understood realm. Being able to accurately model the ocean's surface currents could yield a variety of benefits such as more accurately predicting movement of an oil spill, supporting search and rescue operations for a man overboard or vessel adrift, and could even help with planning more efficient global shipping routes by circumnavigating areas with adverse currents.
CERBERUS won the Systems Competition and Dynamo topped the leaderboard in the Virtual Competition as roboticists and engineers from eleven countries participated in the Final Event of the DARPA Subterranean (SubT) Challenge this week at the Louisville, Kentucky Mega Cavern. With $5 million in total prize money at stake, the Systems and Virtual winners won $2 million and $750,000, respectively.
While much attention is paid to detecting and remedying flaws or vulnerabilities in software, the way a system is designed can also create large opportunities for attackers. System designers primarily focus on ensuring a program is adept at executing a specific task, focusing on how a design can best support intended features and behaviors and on how they will be implemented within the design. Attackers have also discovered that these design structures and implementation behaviors can be repurposed for their own malicious purposes.
This episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast takes listeners on a tour of an audacious, decade-long project to merge biology and engineering into one of the most powerful engines of molecular invention the world has known. Although plenty of work remains to be done, the program, Living Foundries, is winding down. But not before its community of research performers and collaborators already has delivered a new and versatile biotechnology platform whose consequences have begun to ripple out. New companies. Follow-on investments. Chemical- and materials-based technologies for the Department of Defense … and perhaps one day for the public at large.
Bacteria are the most abundant and diverse lifeform on Earth, coating almost every surface, with the majority spending their lives in biofilms. This lifestyle is universally perceived as problematic since biofilms contribute significantly to equipment degradation, including billions of dollars yearly in DoD assets, through corrosion, mold or increased drag.
As government and commercial small-satellite constellations continue to proliferate in low-earth orbit (LEO), DARPA has unveiled a new effort to create a novel optical communications terminal to interconnect diverse constellations into a resilient "space layer" - an internet of small satellites.
DARPA has announced its selection of eight industry and university research teams to support the Science of Atomic Vapors for New Technologies (SAVaNT) program that kicked off this week:
Today, DARPA announced the researchers selected to its Influence Campaign Awareness and Sensemaking (INCAS) program. Research teams led by Smart Information Flow Technologies (SIFT), Protagonist Technology, University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute (ISI), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Uncharted Software will work to develop automated techniques and tools that aid U.S. analysts in the detection and sensemaking of geopolitical online influence campaigns. Additionally, teams led by Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories and University of Maryland Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security (ARLIS) will support test, evaluation, and transition efforts of the resulting INCAS technologies.
DARPA today announced that a first-of-its-kind sensor system developed under the Arrays at Commercial Timescales - Integration and Validation (ACT-IV) program has transitioned to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for continued advancement and experimentation. Northrop Grumman, the primary research team on the ACT-IV program, facilitated the transition of the advanced digital active electronically scanned array (AESA) to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH.